Manners, Custom and Dress During the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period
Paul Lacroix

Part 3 out of 8

and the _paradis_ of Provence, are of oldest repute. This reminds us of
the couplet by the author of the "Street Cries of Paris," thirteenth

"Primes ai pommes de rouviau,
Et d'Auvergne le blanc duriau."

("Give me first the russet apple,
And the hard white fruit of Auvergne.")

The quince, which was so generally cultivated in the Middle Ages, was
looked upon as the most useful of all fruits. Not only did it form the
basis of the farmers' dried preserves of Orleans, called _cotignac_, a
sort of marmalade, but it was also used for seasoning meat. The Portugal
quince was the most esteemed; and the cotignac of Orleans had such a
reputation, that boxes of this fruit were always given to kings, queens,
and princes on entering the towns of France. It was the first offering
made to Joan of Arc on her bringing reinforcements into Orleans during the
English siege.

Several sorts of cherries were known, but these did not prevent the small
wild or wood cherry from being appreciated at the tables of the citizens;
whilst the _cornouille_, or wild cornelian cherry, was hardly touched,
excepting by the peasants; thence came the proverbial expression, more
particularly in use at Orleans, when a person made a silly remark, "He has
eaten cornelians," _i.e._, he speaks like a rustic.

In the thirteenth century, chestnuts from Lombardy were hawked in the
streets; but, in the sixteenth century, the chestnuts of the Lyonnais and
Auvergne were substituted, and were to be found on the royal table. Four
different sorts of figs, in equal estimation, were brought from
Marseilles, Nismes, Saint-Andeol, and Pont Saint-Esprit; and in Provence,
filberts were to be had in such profusion that they supplied from there
all the tables of the kingdom.

The Portuguese claim the honour of having introduced oranges from China;
however, in an account of the house of Humbert, Dauphin of Viennois, in
1333, that is, long before the expeditions of the Portuguese to India,
mention is made of a sum of money being paid for transplanting

[Illustration: Figs. 81 and 82.--Culture of the Vine and Treading the
Grape.--Miniatures taken from the Calendar of a Prayer-Book, in
Manuscript, of the Sixteenth Century.]

In the time of Bruyerin Champier, physician to Henry II., raspberries were
still completely wild; the same author states that wood strawberries had
only just at that time been introduced into gardens, "by which," he says,
"they had attained a larger size, though they at the same time lost their

The vine, acclimatised and propagated by the Gauls, ever since the
followers of Brennus had brought it from Italy, five hundred years before
the Christian era, never ceased to be productive, and even to constitute
the natural wealth of the country (Fig. 81 and 82). In the sixteenth
century, Liebault enumerated nineteen sorts of grapes, and Olivier de
Serres twenty-four, amongst which, notwithstanding the eccentricities of
the ancient names, we believe that we can trace the greater part of those
plants which are now cultivated in France. For instance, it is known that
the excellent vines of Thomery, near Fontainebleau, which yield in
abundance the most beautiful table grape which art and care can produce,
were already in use in the reign of Henry IV. (Fig. 83).

[Illustration: Fig. 83.--The Winegrower, drawn and engraved in the
Sixteenth Century, by J. Amman.]

In the time of the Gauls the custom of drying grapes by exposing them to
the sun, or to a certain amount of artificial heat, was already known; and
very soon after, the same means were adopted for preserving plums, an
industry in which then, as now, the people of Tours and Rheims excelled.
Drying apples in an oven was also the custom, and formed a delicacy which
was reserved for winter and spring banquets. Dried fruits were also
brought from abroad, as mentioned in the "Book of Street Cries in

"Figues de Melites sans fin,
J'ai roisin d'outre mer, roisin."

("Figs from Malta without end,
And grapes from over the sea.")

Butchers' Meat.--According to Strabo, the Gauls were great eaters of meat,
especially of pork, whether fresh or salted. "Gaul," says he, "feeds so
many flocks, and, above all, so many pigs, that it supplies not only Rome,
but all Italy, with grease and salt meat." The second chapter of the Salic
law, comprising nineteen articles, relates entirely to penalties for
pig-stealing; and in the laws of the Visigoths we find four articles on
the same subject.

[Illustration: Fig. 84.--Swineherd.

Illustration: Fig 85.--A Burgess at Meals.

Miniatures from the Calendar of a Book of Hours.--Manuscript of the
Sixteenth Century.]

In those remote days, in which the land was still covered with enormous
forests of oak, great facilities were offered for breeding pigs, whose
special liking for acorns is well known. Thus the bishops, princes, and
lords caused numerous droves of pigs to be fed on their domains, both for
the purpose of supplying their own tables as well as for the fairs and
markets. At a subsequent period, it became the custom for each household,
whether in town or country, to rear and fatten a pig, which was killed and
salted at a stated period of the year; and this custom still exists in
many provinces. In Paris, for instance, there was scarcely a bourgeois who
had not two or three young pigs. During the day these unsightly creatures
were allowed to roam in the streets; which, however, they helped to keep
clean by eating up the refuse of all sorts which was thrown out of the
houses. One of the sons of Louis le Gros, while passing, on the 2nd of
October, 1131, in the Rue du Martroi, between the Hotel de Ville and the
church of St. Gervais, fractured his skull by a fall from his horse,
caused by a pig running between that animal's legs. This accident led to
the first order being issued by the provosts, to the effect that breeding
pigs within the town was forbidden. Custom, however, deep-rooted for
centuries, resisted this order, and many others on the same subject which
followed it: for we find, under Francis I., a license was issued to the
executioner, empowering him to capture all the stray pigs which he could
find in Paris, and to take them to the Hotel Dieu, when he should receive
either five sous in silver or the head of the animal.

It is said that the holy men of St. Antoine, in virtue of the privilege
attached to the popular legend of their patron, who was generally
represented with a pig, objected to this order, and long after maintained
the exclusive right of allowing their pigs to roam in the streets of the

The obstinate determination with which every one tried to evade the
administrative laws on this subject, is explained, in fact, by the general
taste of the French nation for pork. This taste appears somewhat strange
at a time when this kind of food was supposed to engender leprosy, a
disease with which France was at that time overrun.

[Illustration: Fig. 86.--Stall of Carved Wood (Fifteenth Century),
representing the Proverb, "Margaritas ante Porcos," "Throwing Pearls
before Swine," from Rouen Cathedral.]

Pigs' meat made up generally the greater part of the domestic banquets.
There was no great feast at which hams, sausages, and black puddings were
not served in profusion on all the tables; and as Easter Day, which
brought to a close the prolonged fastings of Lent, was one of the great
feasts, this food formed the most important dish on that occasion. It is
possible that the necessity for providing for the consumption of that day
originated the celebrated ham fair, which was and is still held annually
on the Thursday of Passion Week in front of Notre-Dame, where the dealers
from all parts of France, and especially from Normandy and Lower
Brittany, assembled with their swine.

Sanitary measures were taken in Paris and in the various towns in order to
prevent the evil effects likely to arise from the enormous consumption of
pork; public officers, called _languayeurs_, were ordered to examine the
animals to ensure that they had not white ulcers under the tongue, these
being considered the signs that their flesh was in a condition to
communicate leprosy to those who partook of it.

For a long time the retail sale of pork was confined to the butchers, like
that of other meat. Salt or fresh pork was at one time always sold raw,
though at a later period some retailers, who carried on business
principally among the lowest orders of the people, took to selling cooked
pork and sausages. They were named _charcuitiers_ or _saucissiers_. This
new trade, which was most lucrative, was adopted by so many people that
parliament was forced to limit the number of _charcuitiers_, who at last
formed a corporation, and received their statutes, which were confirmed by
the King in 1475.

Amongst the privileges attached to their calling was that of selling red
herrings and sea-fish in Lent, during which time the sale of pork was
strictly forbidden. Although they had the exclusive monopoly of selling
cooked pork, they were at first forbidden to buy their meat of any one but
of the butchers, who alone had the right of killing pigs; and it was only
in 1513 that the _charcuitiers_ were allowed to purchase at market and
sell the meat raw, in opposition to the butchers, who in consequence
gradually gave up killing and selling pork (Fig. 87).

Although the consumption of butchers' meat was not so great in the Middle
Ages as it is now, the trade of a butcher, to which extraordinary
privileges were attached, was nevertheless one of the industries which
realised the greatest profits.

We know what an important part the butchers played in the municipal
history of France, as also of Belgium; and we also know how great their
political influence was, especially in the fifteenth century.

[Illustration: Fig. 87.--The Pork-butcher (_Charcutier_).--Fac-simile of
a Miniature in a Charter of the Abbey of Solignac (Fourteenth Century).]

The existence of the great slaughter-house of Paris dates back to the most
remote period of monarchy. The parish church of the corporation of
butchers, namely, that of St. Pierre aux Boeufs in the city, on the front
of which were two sculptured oxen, existed before the tenth century. A
Celtic monument was discovered on the site of the ancient part of Paris,
with a bas-relief representing a wild bull carrying three cranes standing
among oak branches. Archaeology has chosen to recognise in this sculpture a
Druidical allegory, which has descended to us in the shape of the
triumphal car of the Prize Ox (Fig. 88). The butchers who, for centuries
at least in France, only killed sheep and pigs, proved themselves most
jealous of their privileges, and admitted no strangers into their
corporation. The proprietorship of stalls at the markets, and the right of
being admitted as a master butcher at the age of seven years and a day,
belonged exclusively to the male descendants of a few rich and powerful
families. The Kings of France alone, on their accession, could create a
new master butcher. Since the middle of the fourteenth century the "Grande
Boucherie" was the seat of an important jurisdiction, composed of a mayor,
a master, a proctor, and an attorney; it also had a judicial council
before which the butchers could bring up all their cases, and an appeal
from which could only be considered by Parliament. Besides this court,
which had to decide cases of misbehaviour on the part of the apprentices,
and all their appeals against their masters, the corporation had a counsel
in Parliament, as also one at the Chatelet, who were specially attached to
the interests of the butchers, and were in their pay.

[Illustration: Fig. 88.--The Holy Ox.--Celtic Monument found in Paris
under the Choir of Notre-Dame in 1711, and preserved in the Musee de Cluny
et des Thermes.]

Although bound, at all events with their money, to follow the calling of
their fathers, we find many descendants of ancient butchers' families of
Paris, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, abandoning their stalls
to fill high places in the state, and even at court. It must not be
concluded that the rich butchers in those days occupied themselves with
the minor details of their trade; the greater number employed servants who
cut up and retailed the meat, and they themselves simply kept the
accounts, and were engaged in dealing through factors or foremen for the
purchase of beasts for their stalls (Fig. 89). One can form an opinion of
the wealth of some of these tradesmen by reading the enumeration made by
an old chronicler of the property and income of Guillaume de Saint-Yon,
one of the principal master butchers in 1370. "He was proprietor of three
stalls, in which meat was weekly sold to the amount of 200 _livres
parisis_ (the livre being equivalent to 24 francs at least), with an
average profit of ten to fifteen per cent.; he had an income of 600
_livres parisis_; he possessed besides his family house in Paris, four
country-houses, well supplied with furniture and agricultural implements,
drinking-cups, vases, cups of silver, and cups of onyx with silver feet,
valued at 100 francs or more each. His wife had jewels, belts, purses, and
trinkets, to the value of upwards of 1,000 gold francs (the gold franc was
worth 24 livres); long and short gowns trimmed with fur; and three mantles
of grey fur. Guillaume de Saint-Yon had generally in his storehouses 300
ox-hides, worth 24 francs each at least; 800 measures of fat, worth 3-1/2
sols each; in his sheds, he had 800 sheep worth 100 sols each; in his
safes 500 or 600 silver florins of ready money (the florin was worth 12
francs, which must be multiplied five times to estimate its value in
present currency), and his household furniture was valued at 12,000
florins. He gave a dowry of 2,000 florins to his two nieces, and spent
3,000 florins in rebuilding his Paris house; and lastly, as if he had been
a noble, he used a silver seal."

[Illustration: Fig. 89.--The Butcher and his Servant, drawn and engraved
by J. Amman (Sixteenth Century).]

We find in the "Menagier de Paris" curious statistics respecting the
various butchers' shops of the capital, and the daily sale in each at the
period referred to. This sale, without counting the households of the
King, the Queen, and the royal family, which were specially provisioned,
amounted to 26,624 oxen, 162,760 sheep, 27,456 pigs, and 15,912 calves
per annum; to which must be added not only the smoked and salted flesh of
200 or 300 pigs, which were sold at the fair in Holy Week, but also 6,420
sheep, 823 oxen, 832 calves, and 624 pigs, which, according to the
"Menagier," were used in the royal and princely households.

Sometimes the meat was sent to market already cut up, but the slaughter of
beasts was more frequently done in the butchers' shops in the town; for
they only killed from day to day, according to the demand. Besides the
butchers' there were tripe shops, where the feet, kidneys, &c., were sold.

[Illustration: Figs. 90 and 91.--Seal and Counter-Seal of the Butchers of
Bruges in 1356, from an impression on green wax, preserved in the archives
of that town.]

According to Bruyerin Champier, during the sixteenth century the most
celebrated sheep in France were those of Berri and Limousin; and of all
butchers' meat, veal was reckoned the best. In fact, calves intended for
the tables of the upper classes were fed in a special manner: they were
allowed for six months, or even for a year, nothing but milk, which made
their flesh most tender and delicate. Contrary to the present taste, kid
was more appreciated than lamb, which caused the _rotisseurs_ frequently
to attach the tail of a kid to a lamb, so as to deceive the customer and
sell him a less expensive meat at the higher price. This was the origin of
the proverb which described a cheat as "a dealer in goat by halves."

In other places butchers were far from acquiring the same importance which
they did in France and Belgium (Figs. 90 and 91), where much more meat was
consumed than in Spain, Italy, or even in Germany. Nevertheless, in
almost all countries there were certain regulations, sometimes eccentric,
but almost always rigidly enforced, to ensure a supply of meat of the best
quality and in a healthy state. In England, for instance, butchers were
only allowed to kill bulls after they had been baited with dogs, no doubt
with the view of making the flesh more tender. At Mans, it was laid down
in the trade regulations, that "no butcher shall be so bold as to sell
meat unless it shall have been previously seen alive by two or three
persons, who will testify to it on oath; and, anyhow, they shall not sell
it until the persons shall have declared it wholesome," &c.

To the many regulations affecting the interests of the public must be
added that forbidding butchers to sell meat on days when abstinence from
animal food was ordered by the Church. These regulations applied less to
the vendors than to the consumers, who, by disobeying them, were liable to
fine or imprisonment, or to severe corporal punishment by the whip or in
the pillory. We find that Clement Marot was imprisoned and nearly burned
alive for having eaten pork in Lent. In 1534, Guillaume des Moulins, Count
of Brie, asked permission for his mother, who was then eighty years of
age, to cease fasting; the Bishop of Paris only granted dispensation on
condition that the old lady should take her meals in secret and out of
sight of every one, and should still fast on Fridays. "In a certain town,"
says Brantome, "there had been a procession in Lent. A woman, who had
assisted at it barefooted, went home to dine off a quarter of lamb and a
ham. The smell got into the street; the house was entered. The fact being
established, the woman was taken, and condemned to walk through the town
with her quarter of lamb on the spit over her shoulder, and the ham hung
round her neck." This species of severity increased during the times of
religious dissensions. Erasmus says, "He who has eaten pork instead of
fish is taken to the torture like a parricide." An edict of Henry II,
1549, forbade the sale of meat in Lent to persons who should not be
furnished with a doctor's certificate. Charles IX forbade the sale of meat
to the Huguenots; and it was ordered that the privilege of selling meat
during the time of abstinence should belong exclusively to the hospitals.
Orders were given to those who retailed meat to take the address of every
purchaser, although he had presented a medical certificate, so that the
necessity for his eating meat might be verified. Subsequently, the medical
certificate required to be endorsed by the priest, specifying what
quantity of meat was required. Even in these cases the use of butchers'
meat alone was granted, pork, poultry, and game being strictly forbidden.

Poultry.--A monk of the Abbey of Cluny once went on a visit to his
relations. On arriving he asked for food; but as it was a fast day he was
told there was nothing in the house but fish. Perceiving some chickens in
the yard, he took a stick and killed one, and brought it to his relations,
saying, "This is the fish which I shall eat to-day." "Eh, but, my son,"
they said, "have you dispensation from fasting on a Friday?" "No," he
answered; "but poultry is not flesh; fish and fowls were created at the
same time; they have a common origin, as the hymn which I sing in the
service teaches me."

This simple legend belongs to the tenth century; and notwithstanding that
the opinion of this Benedictine monk may appear strange nowadays, yet it
must be acknowledged that he was only conforming himself to the opinions
laid down by certain theologians. In 817, the Council of Aix-la-Chapelle
decided that such delicate nourishment could scarcely be called
mortification as understood by the teaching of the Church. In consequence
of this an order was issued forbidding the monks to eat poultry, except
during four days at Easter and four at Christmas. But this prohibition in
no way changed the established custom of certain parts of Christendom, and
the faithful persisted in believing that poultry and fish were identical
in the eyes of the Church, and accordingly continued to eat them
indiscriminately. We also see, in the middle of the thirteenth century,
St. Thomas Aquinas, who was considered an authority in questions of dogma
and of faith, ranking poultry amongst species of aquatic origin.

Eventually, this palpable error was abandoned; but when the Church forbade
Christians the use of poultry on fast days, it made an exception, out of
consideration for the ancient prejudice, in favour of teal, widgeon,
moor-hens, and also two or three kinds of small amphibious quadrupeds.
Hence probably arose the general and absurd beliefs concerning the origin
of teal, which some said sprung from the rotten wood of old ships, others
from the fruits of a tree, or the gum on fir-trees, whilst others thought
they came from a fresh-water shell analogous to that of the oyster and

As far back as modern history can be traced, we find that a similar mode
of fattening poultry was employed then as now, and was one which the Gauls
must have learnt from the Romans. Amongst the charges in the households
of the kings of France one item was that which concerned the
poultry-house, and which, according to an edict of St. Louis in 1261,
bears the name of _poulaillier_. At a subsequent period this name was
given to breeders and dealers in poultry (Fig. 92).

The "Menagier" tells as that, as is the present practice, chickens were
fattened by depriving them of light and liberty, and gorging them with
succulent food. Amongst the poultry yards in repute at that time, the
author mentions that of Hesdin, a property of the Dukes of Luxemburg, in
Artois; that of the King, at the Hotel Saint-Pol, Rue Saint-Antoine,
Paris; that of Master Hugues Aubriot, provost of Paris; and that of
Charlot, no doubt a bourgeois of that name, who also gave his name to an
ancient street in that quarter called the Marais.

[Illustration: Fig. 92.--The Poulterer, drawn and engraved in the
Sixteenth Century, by J. Amman.]

_Capons_ are frequently mentioned in poems of the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries; but the name of the _poularde_ does not occur until the

We know that under the Roman rule, the Gauls carried on a considerable
trade in fattened geese. This trade ceased when Gaul passed to new
masters; but the breeding of geese continued to be carefully attended to.
For many centuries geese were more highly prized than any other
description of poultry, and Charlemagne ordered that his domains should
be well stocked with flocks of geese, which were driven to feed in the
fields, like flocks of sheep. There was an old proverb, "Who eats the
king's goose returns the feathers in a hundred years." This bird was
considered a great delicacy by the working classes and bourgeoisie. The
_rotisseurs_ (Fig. 94) had hardly anything in their shops but geese, and,
therefore, when they were united in a company, they received the name of
_oyers_, or _oyeurs_. The street in which they were established, with
their spits always loaded with juicy roasts, was called Rue des _Oues_
(geese), and this street, when it ceased to be frequented by the _oyers_,
became by corruption Rue Auxours.

[Illustration: Fig. 93.--Barnacle Geese.--Fac-simile of an Engraving on
Wood, from the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster, folio, Basle, 1552.]

There is every reason for believing that the domestication of the wild
duck is of quite recent date. The attempt having succeeded, it was wished
to follow it up by the naturalisation in the poultry-yard of two other
sorts of aquatic birds, namely, the sheldrake (_tadorna_) and the moorhen,
but without success. Some attribute the introduction of turkeys into
France and Europe to Jacques Coeur, treasurer to Charles VII., whose
commercial connections with the East were very extensive; others assert
that it is due to King Rene, Count of Provence; but according to the best
authorities these birds were first brought into France in the time of
Francis I. by Admiral Philippe de Chabot, and Bruyerin Champier asserts
that they were not known until even later. It was at about the same period
that guinea-fowls were brought from the coast of Africa by Portuguese
merchants; and the travelling naturalist, Pierre Belon, who wrote in the
year 1555, asserts that in his time "they had already so multiplied in the
houses of the nobles that they had become quite common."

[Illustration: Fig. 94.--The Poultry-dealer.--Fac-simile of an Engraving
on Wood, after Cesare Vecellio.]

The pea-fowl played an important part in the chivalric banquets of the
Middle Ages (Fig. 95). According to old poets the flesh of this noble bird
is "food for the brave." A poet of the thirteenth century says, "that
thieves have as much taste for falsehood as a hungry man has for the flesh
of the peacock." In the fourteenth century poultry-yards were still
stocked with these birds; but the turkey and the pheasant gradually
replaced them, as their flesh was considered somewhat hard and stringy.
This is proved by the fact that in 1581, "La Nouvelle Coutume du
Bourbonnois" only reckons the value of these beautiful birds at two sous
and a half, or about three francs of present currency.

[Illustration: Fig. 95.--State Banquet.--Serving the Peacock.--Fac-simile
of a Woodcut in an edition of Virgil, folio, published at Lyons in 1517.]

Game.--Our forefathers included among the birds which now constitute
feathered game the heron, the crane, the crow, the swan, the stork, the
cormorant, and the bittern. These supplied the best tables, especially the
first three, which were looked upon as exquisite food, fit even for
royalty, and were reckoned as thorough French delicacies. There were at
that time heronries, as at a later period there were pheasantries. People
also ate birds of prey, and only rejected those which fed on carrion.

Swans, which were much appreciated, were very common on all the principal
rivers of France, especially in the north; a small island below Paris had
taken its name from these birds, and has maintained it ever since. It was
proverbially said that the Charente was bordered with swans, and for this
same reason Valenciennes was called _Val des Cygnes_, or the Swan Valley.

Some authors make it appear that for a long time young game was avoided
owing to the little nourishment it contained and its indigestibility, and
assert that it was only when some French ambassadors returned from Venice
that the French learnt that young partridges and leverets were exquisite,
and quite fit to appear at the most sumptuous banquets. The "Menagier"
gives not only various receipts for cooking them, but also for dressing
chickens, when game was out of season, so as to make them taste like young

There was a time when they fattened pheasants as they did capons; it was a
secret, says Liebault, only known to the poultry dealers; but although
they were much appreciated, the pullet was more so, and realised as much
as two crowns each (this does not mean the gold crown, but a current coin
worth three livres). Plovers, which sometimes came from Beauce in
cart-loads, were much relished; they were roasted without being drawn, as
also were turtle-doves and larks; "for," says an ancient author, "larks
only eat small pebbles and sand, doves grains of juniper and scented
herbs, and plovers feed on air." At a later period the same honour was
conferred on woodcocks.

Thrushes, starlings, blackbirds, quail, and partridges were in equal
repute according to the season. The _bec-figue_, a small bird like a
nightingale, was so much esteemed in Provence that there were feasts at
which that bird alone was served, prepared in various ways; but of all
birds used for the table none could be compared to the young cuckoo taken
just as it was full fledged.

As far as we can ascertain, the Gauls had a dislike to the flesh of
rabbits, and they did not even hunt them, for according to Strabo,
Southern Gaul was infested with these mischievous animals, which destroyed
the growing crops, and even the barks of the trees. There was considerable
change in this respect a few centuries later, for every one in town or
country reared domesticated rabbits, and the wild ones formed an article
of food which was much in request. In order to ascertain whether a rabbit
is young, Strabo tells us we should feel the first joint of the fore-leg,
when we shall find a small bone free and movable. This method is adopted
in all kitchens in the present day. Hares were preferred to rabbits,
provided they were young; for an old French proverb says, "An old hare and
an old goose are food for the devil."

[Illustration: Fig. 96.--"The way to skin and cut up a Stag."--Fac-simile
of a Miniature of "Phoebus, and his Staff for hunting Wild Animals"
(Manuscript of the Fifteenth Century, National Library of Paris).]

The hedgehog and squirrel were also eaten. As for roe and red deer, they
were, according to Dr. Bruyerin Ohampier, morsels fit for kings and rich
people (Fig. 96). The doctor speaks of "fried slices of the young horn of
the stag" as the daintiest of food, and the "Menagier de Paris" shows how,
as early as the fourteenth century, beef was dished up like bear's-flesh
venison, for the use of kitchens in countries where the black bear did not
exist. This proves that bear's flesh was in those days considered good

Milk, Butter, Eggs, and Cheese.--These articles of food, the first which
nature gave to man, were not always and everywhere uniformly permitted or
prohibited by the Church on fast days. The faithful were for several
centuries left to their own judgment on the subject. In fact, there is
nothing extraordinary in eggs being eaten in Lent without scruple,
considering that some theologians maintained that the hens which laid them
were animals of aquatic extraction.

It appears, however, that butter, either from prejudice or mere custom,
was only used on fast days in its fresh state, and was not allowed to be
used for cooking purposes. At first, and especially amongst the monks, the
dishes were prepared with oil; but as in some countries oil was apt to
become very expensive, and the supply even to fail totally, animal fat or
lard had to be substituted. At a subsequent period the Church authorised
the use of butter and milk; but on this point, the discipline varied much.
In the fourteenth century, Charles V., King of France, having asked Pope
Gregory XI. for a dispensation to use milk and butter on fast days, in
consequence of the bad state of his health, brought on owing to an attempt
having been made to poison him, the supreme Pontiff required a certificate
from a physician and from the King's confessor. He even then only granted
the dispensation after imposing on that Christian king the repetition of a
certain number of prayers and the performance of certain pious deeds. In
defiance of the severity of ecclesiastical authority, we find, in the
"Journal of a Bourgeois of Paris," that in the unhappy reign of Charles
VI. (1420), "for want of oil, butter was eaten in Lent the same as on
ordinary non-fast days."

In 1491, Queen Anne, Duchess of Brittany, in order to obtain permission
from the Pope to eat butter in Lent, represented that Brittany did not
produce oil, neither did it import it from southern countries. Many
northern provinces adopted necessity as the law, and, having no oil, used
butter; and thence originated that famous toast with slices of bread and
butter, which formed such an important part of Flemish food. These papal
dispensations were, however, only earned at the price of prayers and alms,
and this was the origin of the _troncs pour le beurre_, that is, "alms-box
for butter," which are still to be seen in some of the Flemish churches.

[Illustration: Fig. 97.--The Manufacture of Oil, drawn and engraved by J.
Amman in the Sixteenth Century.]

It is not known when butter was first salted in order to preserve it or to
send it to distant places; but this process, which is so simple and so
natural, dates, no doubt, from very ancient times; it was particularly
practised by the Normans and Bretons, who enclosed the butter in large
earthenware jars, for in the statutes which were given to the fruiterers
of Paris in 1412, mention is made of salt butter in earthenware jars.
Lorraine only exported butter in such jars. The fresh butter most in
request for the table in Paris, was that made at Vanvres, which in the
month of May the people ate every morning mixed with garlic.

The consumption of butter was greatest in Flanders. "I am surprised," says
Bruyerin Champier, speaking of that country, "that they have not yet tried
to turn it into drink; in France it is mockingly called _beurriere;_ and
when any one has to travel in that country, he is advised to take a knife
with him if he wishes to taste the good rolls of butter."

[Illustration: Fig. 98.--A Dealer in Eggs.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut, after
Cesare Vecellio, Sixteenth Century.]

It is not necessary to state that milk and cheese followed the fortunes of
butter in the Catholic world, the same as eggs followed those of poultry.
But butter having been declared lawful by the Church, a claim was put in
for eggs (Fig. 98), and Pope Julius III. granted this dispensation to all
Christendom, although certain private churches did not at once choose to
profit by this favour. The Greeks had always been more rigid on these
points of discipline than the people of the West. It is to the prohibition
of eggs in Lent that the origin of "Easter eggs" must be traced. These
were hardened by boiling them in a madder bath, and were brought to
receive the blessing of the priest on Good Friday, and were then eaten on
the following Sunday as a sign of rejoicing.

Ancient Gaul was celebrated for some of its home-made cheeses. Pliny
praises those of Nismes, and of Mount Lozere, in Gevaudau; Martial
mentions those of Toulouse, &c. A simple anecdote, handed down by the monk
of St. Gall, who wrote in the ninth century, proves to us that the
traditions with regard to cheeses were not lost in the time of
Charlemagne: "The Emperor, in one of his travels, alighted suddenly, and
without being expected, at the house of a bishop. It was on a Friday. The
prelate had no fish, and did not dare to set meat before the prince. He
therefore offered him what he had got, some boiled corn and green cheese.
Charles ate of the cheese; but taking the green part to be bad, he took
care to remove it with his knife. The Bishop, seeing this, took the
liberty of telling his guest that this was the best part. The Emperor,
tasting it, found that the bishop was right; and consequently ordered him
to send him annually two cases of similar cheese to Aix-la-Chapelle. The
Bishop answered, that he could easily send cheeses, but he could not be
sure of sending them in proper condition, because it was only by opening
them that you could be sure of the dealer not having deceived you in the
quality of the cheese. 'Well,' said the Emperor, 'before sending them, cut
them through the middle, so as to see if they are what I want; you will
only have to join the two halves again by means of a wooden peg, and you
can then put the whole into a case.'"

Under the kings of the third French dynasty, a cheese was made at the
village of Chaillot, near Paris, which was much appreciated in the
capital. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the cheeses of Champagne
and of Brie, which are still manufactured, were equally popular, and were
hawked in the streets, according to the "Book of Street-Cries in Paris,"--

"J'ai bon fromage de Champaigne;
Or i a fromage de Brie!"

("Buy my cheese from Champagne,
And my cheese from Brie!")

Eustache Deschamps went so far as to say that cheese was the only good
thing which could possibly come from Brie.

The "Menagier de Paris" praises several kinds of cheeses, the names of
which it would now be difficult to trace, owing to their frequent changes
during four hundred years; but, according to the Gallic author of this
collection, a cheese to be presentable at table, was required to possess
certain qualities (in proverbial Latin, "Non Argus, nee Helena, nee Maria
Magdalena," &c.), thus expressed in French rhyme:--

"Non mie (pas) blanc comme Helaine,
Non mie (pas) plourant comme Magdelaine,
Non Argus (a cent yeux), mais du tout avugle (aveugle)
Et aussi pesant comme un bugle (boeuf),
Contre le pouce soit rebelle,
Et qu'il ait ligneuse cotelle (epaisse croute)
Sans yeux, sans plourer, non pas blanc,
Tigneulx, rebelle, bien pesant."

("Neither-white like Helena,
Nor weeping as Magdelena,
Neither Argus, nor yet quite blind,
And having too a thickish rind,
Resisting somewhat to the touch,
And as a bull should weigh as much;
Not eyeless, weeping, nor quite white,
But firm, resisting, not too light.")

In 1509, Platina, although an Italian, in speaking of good cheeses,
mentions those of Chauny, in Picardy, and of Brehemont, in Touraine;
Charles Estienne praises those of Craponne, in Auvergne, the _angelots_ of
Normandy, and the cheeses made from fresh cream which the peasant-women of
Montreuil and Vincennes brought to Paris in small wickerwork baskets, and
which were eaten sprinkled with sugar. The same author names also the
_rougerets_ of Lyons, which were always much esteemed; but, above all the
cheeses of Europe, he places the round or cylindrical ones of Auvergne,
which were only made by very clean and healthy children of fourteen years
of age. Olivier de Serres advises those who wish to have good cheeses to
boil the milk before churning it, a plan which is in use at Lodi and
Parma, "where cheeses are made which are acknowledged by all the world to
be excellent."

The parmesan, which this celebrated agriculturist cites as an example,
only became the fashion in France on the return of Charles VIII. from his
expedition to Naples. Much was thought at that time of a cheese brought
from Turkey in bladders, and of different varieties produced in Holland
and Zetland. A few of these foreign products were eaten in stews and in
pastry, others were toasted and sprinkled with sugar and powdered

"Le Roman de Claris," a manuscript which belongs to the commencement of
the fourteenth century, says that in a town winch was taken by storm the
following stores were found:--:

"Maint bon tonnel de vin,
Maint bon bacon (cochon), maint fromage a rostir."

("Many a ton of wine,
Many a slice of good bacon, plenty of good roasted cheese.")

[Illustration: Table Service of a Lady of Quality

Fac-simile of a miniature from the Romance of Renaud de Montauban, a ms.
of fifteenth century Bibl. de l'Arsenal]

[Illustration: Ladies Hunting

Costumes of the fifteenth century. From a miniature in a ms. copy of
_Ovid's Epistles_. No 7231 _bis._ Bibl. nat'le de Paris.]

Besides cheese and butter, the Normans, who had a great many cows in their
rich pastures, made a sort of fermenting liquor from the butter-milk,
which they called _serat_, by boiling the milk with onions and garlic, and
letting it cool in closed vessels.

[Illustration: Fig. 99.--Manufacture of Cheeses in
Switzerland.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the "Cosmographie Universelle" of
Munster, folio, Basle, 1549.]

If the author of the "Menagier" is to be believed, the women who sold milk
by retail in the towns were well acquainted with the method of increasing
its quantity at the expense of its quality. He describes how his
_froumentee_, which consists of a sort of soup, is made, and states that
when he sends his cook to make her purchases at the milk market held in
the neighbourhood of the Rues de la Savonnerie, des Ecrivains, and de la
Vieille-Monnaie, he enjoins her particularly "to get very fresh cow's
milk, and to tell the person who sells it not to do so if she has put
water to it; for, unless it be quite fresh, or if there be water in it, it
will turn."

Fish and Shellfish.--Freshwater fish, which was much more abundant in
former days than now, was the ordinary food of those who lived on the
borders of lakes, ponds, or rivers, or who, at all events, were not so far
distant but that they could procure it fresh. There was of course much
diversity at different periods and in different countries as regards the
estimation in which the various kinds of fish were held. Thus Ausone, who
was a native of Bordeaux, spoke highly of the delicacy of the perch, and
asserted that shad, pike, and tench should be left to the lower orders; an
opinion which was subsequently contradicted by the inhabitants of other
parts of Gaul, and even by the countrymen of the Latin poet Gregory of
Tours, who loudly praised the Geneva trout. But a time arrived when the
higher classes preferred the freshwater fish of Orchies in Flanders, and
even those of the Lyonnais. Thus we see in the thirteenth century the
barbel of Saint-Florentin held in great estimation, whereas two hundred
years later a man who was of no use, or a nonentity, was said to resemble
a barbel, "which is neither good for roasting nor boiling."

[Illustration: Fig. 100.--The Pond Fisherman.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut of
the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster, folio, Basle, 1549.]

In a collection of vulgar proverbs of the twelfth century mention is made,
amongst the fish most in demand, besides the barbel of Saint-Florentin
above referred to, of the eels of Maine, the pike of Chalons, the lampreys
of Nantes, the trout of Andeli, and the dace of Aise. The "Menagier" adds
several others to the above list, including blay, shad, roach, and
gudgeon, but, above all, the carp, which was supposed to be a native of
Southern Europe, and which must have been naturalised at a much later
period in the northern waters (Figs. 100, 101, and 102).

[Illustration: Fig. 101.--The River Fisherman, designed and engraved, in
the Sixteenth Century, by J. Amman.]

[Illustration: Fig. 102.--Conveyance of Fish by Water and
Land.--Fac-simile of an Engraving in the Royal Statutes of the Provostship
of Merchants, 1528.]

The most ancient documents bear witness that the natives of the sea-coasts
of Europe, and particularly of the Mediterranean, fed on the same fish as
at present: there were, however, a few other sea-fish, which were also
used for food, but which have since been abandoned. Our ancestors were,
not difficult to please: they had good teeth, and their palates, having
become accustomed to the flesh of the cormorant, heron, and crane, without
difficulty appreciated the delicacy of the nauseous sea-dog, the porpoise,
and even the whale, which, when salted, furnished to a great extent all
the markets of Europe.

The trade in salted sea-fish only began in Paris in the twelfth century,
when a company of merchants was instituted, or rather re-established, on
the principle of the ancient association of Nantes. This association had
existed from the period of the foundation under the Gauls of Lutetia, the
city of fluvial commerce (Fig. 103), and it is mentioned in the letters
patent of Louis VII. (1170). One of the first cargoes which this company
brought in its boats was that of salted herrings from the coast of
Normandy. These herrings became a necessary food during Lent, and

"Sor et blanc harene fres pouldre (couvert de sel)!"

("Herrings smoked, fresh, and salted!")

was the cry of the retailers in the streets of Paris, where this fish
became a permanent article of consumption to an extent which can be
appreciated from the fact that Saint Louis gave annually nearly seventy
thousand herrings to the hospitals, plague-houses, and monasteries.

[Illustration: Fig. 103.--A Votive Altar of the Nantes Parisiens, or the
Company for the Commercial Navigation of the Seine, erected in Lutelia
during the reign of Tiberius.--Fragments of this Altar, which were
discovered in 1711 under the Choir of the Church of Notre-Dame, are
preserved in the Museums of Cluny and the Palais des Thermes.]

The profit derived from the sale of herrings at that time was so great
that it soon became a special trade; it was, in fact, the regular practice
of the Middle Ages for persons engaged in any branch of industry to unite
together and form themselves into a corporation. Other speculators
conceived the idea of bringing fresh fish to Paris by means of relays of
posting conveyances placed along the road, and they called themselves
_forains_. Laws were made to distinguish the rights of each of these
trades, and to prevent any quarrel in the competition. In these laws, all
sea-fish were comprised under three names, the fresh, the salted, and the
smoked (_sor_). Louis IX. in an edict divides the dealers into two
classes, namely, the sellers of fresh fish, and the sellers of salt or
smoked fish. Besides salt and fresh herrings, an enormous amount of salted
mackerel, which was almost as much used, was brought from the sea-coast,
in addition to flat-fish, gurnets, skate, fresh and salted whiting and

In an old document of the thirteenth century about fifty kinds of fish are
enumerated which were retailed in the markets of the kingdom; and a
century later the "Menagier" gives receipts for cooking forty kinds,
amongst which appears, under the name of _craspois_, the salted flesh of
the whale, which was also called _le lard de careme_. This coarse food,
which was sent from the northern seas in enormous slices, was only eaten
by the lower orders, for, according to a writer of the sixteenth century,
"were it cooked even for twenty-four hours it would still be very hard and

The "Proverbes" of the thirteenth century, which mention the freshwater
fish then in vogue, also names the sea-fish most preferred, and whence
they came, namely, the shad from Bordeaux, the congers from La Rochelle,
the sturgeon from Blaye, the fresh herrings from Fecamp, and the
cuttle-fish from Coutances. At a later period the conger was not eaten
from its being supposed to produce the plague. The turbot, John-dory,
skate and sole, which were very dear, were reserved for the rich. The
fishermen fed on the sea-dragon. A great quantity of the small sea
crayfish were brought into market; and in certain countries these were
called _sante_, because the doctors recommended them to invalids or those
in consumption; on the other hand, freshwater crayfish were not much
esteemed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, excepting for their
eggs, which were prepared with spice. It is well known that pond frogs
were a favourite food of the Gauls and Franks; they were never out of
fashion in the rural districts, and were served at the best tables,
dressed with green sauce; at the same period, and especially during Lent,
snails, which were served in pyramid-shaped dishes, were much appreciated;
so much so that nobles and bourgeois cultivated snail beds, somewhat
resembling our oyster beds of the present day.

The inhabitants of the coast at all periods ate various kinds of
shell-fish, which were called in Italy sea-fruit; but it was only towards
the twelfth century that the idea was entertained of bringing oysters to
Paris, and mussels were not known there until much later. It is notorious
that Henry IV. was a great oyster-eater. Sully relates that when he was
created a duke "the king came, without being expected, to take his seat at
the reception banquet, but as there was much delay in going to dinner, he
began by eating some _huitres de chasse_, which he found very fresh."

By _huitres de chasse_ were meant those oysters which were brought by the
_chasse-marees_, carriers who brought the fresh fish from the coast to
Paris at great speed.

Beverages.--Beer is not only one of the oldest fermenting beverages used
by man, but it is also the one which was most in vogue in the Middle Ages.
If we refer to the tales of the Greek historians, we find that the
Gauls--who, like the Egyptians, attributed the discovery of this
refreshing drink to their god Osiris--had two sorts of beer: one called
_zythus_, made with honey and intended for the rich; the other called
_corma_, in which there was no honey, and which was made for the poor. But
Pliny asserts that beer in Gallie was called _cerevisia_, and the grain
employed for making it _brasce_. This testimony seems true, as from
_brasce_ or _brasse_ comes the name _brasseur_ (brewer), and from
_cerevisia, cervoise_, the generic name by which beer was known for
centuries, and which only lately fell into disuse.

[Illustration: Fig. 104.--The Great Drinkers of the North.--Fac-simile of
a Woodcut of the "Histoires des Pays Septentrionaux," by Olaus Magnus,
16mo., Antwerp, 1560.]

After a great famine, Domitian ordered all the vines in Gaul to be
uprooted so as to make room for corn. This rigorous measure must have
caused beer to become even more general, and, although two centuries later
Probus allowed vines to be replanted, the use of beverages made from grain
became an established custom; but in time, whilst the people still only
drank _cervoise_, those who were able to afford it bought wine and drank
it alternately with beer.

However, as by degrees the vineyards increased in all places having a
suitable soil and climate, the use of beer was almost entirely given up,
so that in central Gaul wine became so common and cheap that all could
drink it. In the northern provinces, where the vine would not grow, beer
naturally continued to be the national beverage (Fig. 104).

In the time of Charlemagne, for instance, we find the Emperor wisely
ordered that persons knowing how to brew should be attached to each of his
farms. Everywhere the monastic houses possessed breweries; but as early as
the reign of St. Louis there were only a very few breweries in Paris
itself, and, in spite of all the privileges granted to their corporation,
even these were soon obliged to leave the capital, where there ceased to
be any demand for the produce of their industry. They reappeared in 1428,
probably in consequence of the political and commercial relations which
had become established between Paris and the rich towns of the Flemish
bourgeoisie; and then, either on account of the dearness of wine, or the
caprice of fashion, the consumption of beer again became so general in
France that, according to the "Journal d'un Bourgeois de Paris," it
produced to the revenue two-thirds more than wine. It must be understood,
however, that in times of scarcity, as in the years 1415 and 1482, brewing
was temporarily stopped, and even forbidden altogether, on account of the
quantity of grain which was thereby withdrawn from the food supply of the
people (Fig. 105).

[Illustration: Fig. 105.--The Brewer, designed and engraved, in the
Sixteenth. Century, by J. Amman.]

Under the Romans, the real _cervoise_, or beer, was made with barley; but,
at a later period, all sorts of grain was indiscriminately used; and it
was only towards the end of the sixteenth century that adding the flower
or seed of hops to the oats or barley, which formed the basis of this
beverage, was thought of.

Estienne Boileau's "Book of Trades," edited in the thirteenth century,
shows us that, besides the _cervoise_, another sort of beer was known,
which was called _godale_. This name, we should imagine, was derived from
the two German words _god ael_, which mean "good beer," and was of a
stronger description than the ordinary _cervoise_; this idea is proved by
the Picards and Flemish people calling it "double beer." In any case, it
is from the word _godale_ that the familiar expression of _godailler_ (to
tipple) is derived.

In fact, there is hardly any sort of mixture or ingredient which has not
been used in the making of beer, according to the fashions of the
different periods. When, on the return from the Crusades, the use of spice
had become the fashion, beverages as well as the food were loaded with it.
Allspice, juniper, resin, apples, bread-crumbs, sage, lavender, gentian,
cinnamon, and laurel were each thrown into it. The English sugared it, and
the Germans salted it, and at times they even went so far as to put darnel
into it, at the risk of rendering the mixture poisonous.

The object of these various mixtures was naturally to obtain
high-flavoured beers, which became so much in fashion, that to describe
the want of merit of persons, or the lack of value in anything, no simile
was more common than to compare them to "small beer." Nevertheless, more
delicate and less blunted palates were to be found which could appreciate
beer sweetened simply with honey, or scented with ambergris or
raspberries. It is possible, however, that these compositions refer to
mixtures in which beer, the produce of fermented grain, was confounded
with hydromel, or fermented honey. Both these primitive drinks claim an
origin equally remote, which is buried in the most distant periods of
history, and they have been used in all parts of the world, being
mentioned in the oldest historical records, in the Bible, the Edda, and in
the sacred books of India. In the thirteenth century, hydromel, which then
bore the name of _borgerafre, borgeraste_, or _bochet_, was composed of
one part of honey to twelve parts of water, scented with herbs, and
allowed to ferment for a month or six weeks. This beverage, which in the
customs and statutes of the order of Cluny is termed _potus dulcissimus_
(the sweetest beverage), and which must have been both agreeable in taste
and smell, was specially appreciated by the monks, who feasted on it on
the great anniversaries of the Church. Besides this, an inferior quality
of _bochet_ was made for the consumption of the lower orders and peasants,
out of the honeycomb after the honey had been drained away, or with the
scum which rose during the fermentation of the better qualities.

[Illustration: Fig. 106.--The Vintagers, after a Miniature of the "Dialogues
de Saint Gregoire" (Thirteenth Century).--Manuscript of the Royal Library
of Brussels.]

Cider (in Latin _sicera_) and perry can also both claim a very ancient
origin, since they are mentioned by Pliny. It does not appear, however,
that the Gauls were acquainted with them. The first historical mention of
them is made with reference to a repast which Thierry II., King of
Burgundy and Orleans (596-613), son of Childebert, and grandson of Queen
Brunehaut, gave to St. Colomban, in which both cider and wine were used.
In the thirteenth century, a Latin poet (Guillaume le Breton) says that
the inhabitants of the Auge and of Normandy made cider their daily drink;
but it is not likely that this beverage was sent away from the localities
where it was made; for, besides the fact that the "Menagier" only very
curtly mentions a drink made of apples, we know that in the fifteenth
century the Parisians were satisfied with pouring water on apples, and
steeping them, so as to extract a sort of half-sour, half-sweet drink
called _depense_. Besides this, Paulmier de Grandmesnil, a Norman by
birth, a famous doctor, and the author of a Latin treatise on wine and
cider (1588), asserts that half a century before, cider was very scarce at
Rouen, and that in all the districts of Caux the people only drank beer.
Duperron adds that the Normans brought cider from Biscay, when their crops
of apples failed.

By whom and at what period the vine was naturalised in Gaul has been a
long-disputed question, which, in spite of the most careful research,
remains unsolved. The most plausible opinion is that which attributes the
honour of having imported the vine to the Phoenician colony who founded

Pliny makes mention of several wines of the Gauls as being highly
esteemed. He nevertheless reproaches the vine-growers of Marseilles,
Beziers, and Narbonne with doctoring their wines, and with infusing
various drugs into them, which rendered them disagreeable and even
unwholesome (Fig. 106). Dioscorides, however, approved of the custom in
use among the Allobroges, of mixing resin with their wines to preserve
them and prevent them from turning sour, as the temperature of their
country was not warm enough thoroughly to ripen the grape.

Rooted up by order of Domitian in 92, as stated above, the vine only
reappeared in Gaul under Protus, who revoked, in 282, the imperial edict
of his predecessor; after which period the Gallic wines soon recovered
their ancient celebrity. Under the dominion of the Franks, who held wine
in great favour, vineyard property was one of those which the barbaric
laws protected with the greatest care. We find in the code of the Salians
and in that of the Visigoths very severe penalties for uprooting a vine or
stealing a bunch of grapes. The cultivation of the vine became general,
and kings themselves planted them, even in the gardens of their city
palaces. In 1160, there was still in Paris, near the Louvre, a vineyard of
such an extent, that Louis VII. could annually present six hogsheads of
wine made from it to the rector of St. Nicholas. Philip Augustus possessed
about twenty vineyards of excellent quality in various parts of his

The culture of the vine having thus developed, the wine trade acquired an
enormous importance in France. Gascony, Aunis, and Saintonge sent their
wines to Flanders; Guyenne sent hers to England. Froissart writes that, in
1372, a merchant fleet of quite two hundred sail came from London to
Bordeaux for wine. This flourishing trade received a severe blow in the
sixteenth century; for an awful famine having invaded France in 1566,
Charles IX. did not hesitate to repeat the acts of Domitian, and to order
all the vines to be uprooted and their place to be sown with corn;
fortunately Henry III. soon after modified this edict by simply
recommending the governors of the provinces to see that "the ploughs were
not being neglected in their districts on account of the excessive
cultivation of the vine."

[Illustration: Fig. 107.--Interior of an Hostelry.--Fac-simile of a
Woodcut in a folio edition of Virgil, published at Lyons in 1517.]

Although the trade of a wine-merchant is one of the oldest established in
Paris, it does not follow that the retail sale of wine was exclusively
carried on by special tradesmen. On the contrary, for a long time the
owner of the vineyard retailed the wine which he had not been able to sell
in the cask. A broom, a laurel-wreath, or some other sign of the sort hung
over a door, denoted that any one passing could purchase or drink wine
within. When the wine-growers did not have the quality and price of their
wine announced in the village or town by the public crier, they placed a
man before the door of their cellar, who enticed the public to enter and
taste the new wines. Other proprietors, instead of selling for people to
take away in their own vessels, established a tavern in some room of their
house, where they retailed drink (Fig. 107). The monks, who made wine
extensively, also opened these taverns in the monasteries, as they only
consumed part of their wine themselves; and this system was universally
adopted by wine-growers, and even by the king and the nobles. The latter,
however, had this advantage, that, whilst they were retailing their wines,
no one in the district was allowed to enter into competition with them.
This prescriptive right, which was called _droit de ban-vin_, was still in
force in the seventeenth century.

Saint Louis granted special statutes to the wine-merchants in 1264; but it
was only three centuries later that they formed a society, which was
divided into four classes, namely, hotel-keepers, publichouse-keepers,
tavern proprietors, and dealers in wine _a pot_, that is, sold to people
to take away with them. Hotel-keepers, also called _aubergistes_,
accommodated travellers, and also put up horses and carriages. The dealers
_a pot_ sold wine which could not be drunk on their premises. There was
generally a sort of window in their door through which the empty pot was
passed, to be returned filled: hence the expression, still in use in the
eighteenth century, _vente a huis coupe_ (sale through a cut door).
Publichouse-keepers supplied drink as well as _nappe et assiette_
(tablecloth and plate), which meant that refreshments were also served.
And lastly, the _taverniers_ sold wine to be drunk on the premises, but
without the right of supplying bread or meat to their customers (Figs 108
and 109).

[Illustration: Fig. 108.--Banner of the Corporation of the
Publichouse-keepers of Montmedy.]

[Illustration: Fig. 109.--Banner of the Corporation of the
Publichouse-keepers of Tonnerre.]

The wines of France in most request from the ninth to the thirteenth
centuries were those of Macon, Cahors, Rheims, Choisy, Montargis, Marne,
Meulan, and Orleanais. Amongst the latter there was one which was much
appreciated by Henry I., and of which he kept a store, to stimulate his
courage when he joined his army. The little fable of the Battle of Wines,
composed in the thirteenth century by Henri d'Andelys, mentions a number
of wines which have to this day maintained their reputation: for instance,
the Beaune, in Burgundy; the Saint-Emilion, in Gruyenne; the Chablis,
Epernay, Sezanne, in Champagne, &c. But he places above all, with good
reason, according to the taste of those days, the Saint-Pourcain of
Auvergne, which was then most expensive and in great request. Another
French poet, in describing the luxurious habits of a young man of fashion,
says that he drank nothing but Saint-Pourcain; and in a poem composed by
Jean Bruyant, secretary of the Chatelet of Paris, in 1332, we find

"Du saint-pourcain
Que l'on met en son sein pour sain."

("Saint-Pourcain wine, which you imbibe for the good of your health.")

[Illustration: Fig. 110.--Banner of the Coopers of Bayonne.]

[Illustration: Fig. 111.--Banner of the Coopers of La Rochelle.]

Towards 1400, the vineyards of Ai became celebrated for Champagne as those
of Beaune were for Burgundy; and it is then that we find, according to the
testimony of the learned Paulmier de Grandmesnil, kings and queens making
champagne their favourite beverage. Tradition has it that Francis I.,
Charles Quint, Henry VIII., and Pope Leon X. all possessed vineyards in
Champagne at the same time. Burgundy, that pure and pleasant wine, was not
despised, and it was in its honour that Erasmus said, "Happy province! she
may well call herself the mother of men, since she produces such milk."
Nevertheless, the above-mentioned physician, Paulmier, preferred to
burgundy, "if not perhaps for their flavour, yet for their wholesomeness,
the vines of the _Ile de France_ or _vins francais_, which agree, he says,
with scholars, invalids, the bourgeois, and all other persons who do not
devote themselves to manual labour; for they do not parch the blood, like
the wines of Gascony, nor fly to the head like those of Orleans and
Chateau-Thierry; nor do they cause obstructions like those of Bordeaux."
This is also the opinion of Baccius, who in his Latin treatise on the
natural history of wines (1596) asserts that the wines of Paris "are in no
way inferior to those of any other district of the kingdom." These thin
and sour wines, so much esteemed in the first periods of monarchy and so
long abandoned, first lost favour in the reign of Francis I., who
preferred the strong and stimulating productions of the South.

Notwithstanding the great number of excellent wines made in their own
country, the French imported from other lands. In the thirteenth century,
in the "Battle of Wines" we find those of Aquila, Spain, and, above all,
those of Cyprus, spoken of in high terms. A century later, Eustace
Deschamps praised the Rhine wines, and those of Greece, Malmsey, and
Grenache. In an edict of Charles VI. mention is also made of the muscatel,
rosette, and the wine of Lieppe. Generally, the Malmsey which was drunk in
France was an artificial preparation, which had neither the colour nor
taste of the Cyprian wine. Olivier de Serres tells us that in his time it
was made with water, honey, clary juice, beer grounds, and brandy. At
first the same name was used for the natural wine, mulled and spiced,
which was produced in the island of Madeira from the grapes which the
Portuguese brought there from Cyprus in 1420.

The reputation which this wine acquired in Europe induced Francis I. to
import some vines from Greece, and he planted fifty acres with them near
Fontainebleau. It was at first considered that this plant was succeeding
so well, that "there were hopes," says Olivier de Serres, "that France
would soon be able to furnish her own Malmsey and Greek wines, instead of
having to import them from abroad." It is evident, however, that they soon
gave up this delusion, and that for want of the genuine wine they returned
to artificial beverages, such as _vin cuit_, or cooked wine, which had at
all times been cleverly prepared by boiling down new wine and adding
various aromatic herbs to it.

Many wines were made under the name of _herbes_, which were merely
infusions of wormwood, myrtle, hyssop, rosemary, &c., mixed with sweetened
wine and flavoured with honey. The most celebrated of these beverages
bore the pretentious name of "nectar;" those composed of spices, Asiatic
aromatics, and honey, were generally called "white wine," a name
indiscriminately applied to liquors having for their bases some slightly
coloured wine, as well as to the hypocras, which was often composed of a
mixture of foreign liqueurs. This hypocras plays a prominent part in the
romances of chivalry, and was considered a drink of honour, being always
offered to kings, princes, and nobles on their solemn entry into a town.

[Illustration: Fig. 112.--Butler at his Duties.--Fac-simile from a Woodcut
in the "Cosmographie Universelle," of Munster, folio, Basle, 1549.]

The name of wine was also given to drinks composed of the juices of
certain fruits, and in which grapes were in no way used. These were the
cherry, the currant, the raspberry, and the pomegranate wines; also the
_more_, made with the mulberry, which was so extolled by the poets of the
thirteenth century. We must also mention the sour wines, which were made
by pouring water on the refuse grapes after the wine had been extracted;
also the drinks made from filberts, milk of almonds, the syrups of
apricots and strawberries, and cherry and raspberry waters, all of which
were refreshing, and were principally used in summer; and, lastly,
_tisane_, sold by the confectioners of Paris, and made hot or cold, with
prepared barley, dried grapes, plums, dates, gum, or liquorice. This
_tisane_ may be considered as the origin of that drink which is now sold
to the poor at a sous a glass, and which most assuredly has not much
improved since olden times.

It was about the thirteenth century that brandy first became known in
France; but it does not appear that it was recognised as a liqueur before
the sixteenth. The celebrated physician Arnauld de Villeneuve, who wrote
at the end of the thirteenth century, to whom credit has wrongly been
given for inventing brandy, employed it as one of his remedies, and thus
expresses himself about it: "Who would have believed that we could have
derived from wine a liquor which neither resembles it in nature, colour,
or effect?.... This _eau de vin_ is called by some _eau de vie_, and justly
so, since it prolongs life.... It prolongs health, dissipates superfluous
matters, revives the spirits, and preserves youth. Alone, or added to some
other proper remedy, it cures colic, dropsy, paralysis, ague, gravel, &c."

At a period when so many doctors, alchemists, and other learned men made
it their principal occupation to try to discover that marvellous golden
fluid which was to free the human race of all its original infirmities,
the discovery of such an elixir could not fail to attract the attention of
all such manufacturers of panaceas. It was, therefore, under the name of
_eau d'or_ (_aqua auri_) that brandy first became known to the world; a
name improperly given to it, implying as it did that it was of mineral
origin, whereas its beautiful golden colour was caused by the addition of
spices. At a later period, when it lost its repute as a medicine, they
actually sprinkled it with pure gold leaves, and at the same time that it
ceased to be exclusively considered as a remedy, it became a favourite
beverage. It was also employed in distilleries, especially as the basis of
various strengthening and exciting liqueurs, most of which have descended
to us, some coming from monasteries and others from chateaux, where they
had been manufactured.

The Kitchen.

Soups, broths, and stews, &c.--The French word _potage_ must originally
have signified a soup composed of vegetables and herbs from the kitchen
garden, but from the remotest times it was applied to soups in general.

As the Gauls, according to Athenaeus, generally ate their meat boiled, we
must presume that they made soup with the water in which it was cooked. It
is related that one day Gregory of Tours was sitting at the table of King
Chilperic, when the latter offered him a soup specially made in his honour
from chicken. The poems of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries mention
soups made of peas, of bacon, of vegetables, and of groats. In the
southern provinces there were soups made of almonds, and of olive oil.
When Du Gueselin went out to fight the English knight William of
Blancbourg in single combat, he first ate three sorts of soup made with
wine, "in honour of the three persons in the Holy Trinity."

[Illustration: Fig. 113.--Interior of a Kitchen of the Sixteenth
Century.--Fac-simile from a Woodcut in the "Calendarium Romanum" of Jean
Staeffler, folio, Tubingen, 1518.]

We find in the "Menagier," amongst a long list of the common soups the
receipts for which are given, soup made of "dried peas and the water in
which bacon has been boiled," and, in Lent, "salted-whale water;"
watercress soup, cabbage soup, cheese soup, and _gramose_ soup, which was
prepared by adding stewed meat to the water in which meat had already been
boiled, and adding beaten eggs and verjuice; and, lastly, the _souppe
despourvue_, which was rapidly made at the hotels, for unexpected
travellers, and was a sort of soup made from the odds and ends of the
larder. In those days there is no doubt but that hot soup formed an
indispensable part of the daily meals, and that each person took it at
least twice a day, according to the old proverb:--

"Soupe la soir, soupe le matin,
C'est l'ordinaire du bon chretien."

("Soup in the evening, and soup in the morning,
Is the everyday food of a good Christian.")

The cooking apparatus of that period consisted of a whole glittering array
of cauldrons, saucepans, kettles, and vessels of red and yellow copper,
which hardly sufficed for all the rich soups for which France was so
famous. Thence the old proverb, "En France sont les grands soupiers."

But besides these soups, which were in fact looked upon as "common, and
without spice," a number of dishes were served under the generic name of
soup, which constituted the principal luxuries at the great tables in the
fourteenth century, but which do not altogether bear out the names under
which we find them. For instance, there was haricot mutton, a sort of
stew; thin chicken broth; veal broth with herbs; soup made of veal, roe,
stag, wild boar, pork, hare and rabbit soup flavoured with green peas, &c.

The greater number of these soups were very rich, very expensive, several
being served at the same time; and in order to please the eye as well as
the taste they were generally made of various colours, sweetened with
sugar, and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and aromatic herbs, such as
marjoram, sage, thyme, sweet basil, savoury, &c.

[Illustration: Fig. 114.--Coppersmith, designed and engraved in the
Sixteenth Century by J. Amman.]

These descriptions of soups were perfect luxuries, and were taken instead
of sweets. As a proof of this we must refer to the famous _soupe doree_,
the description of which is given by Taillevent, head cook of Charles
VII., in the following words, "Toast slices of bread, throw them into a
jelly made of sugar, white wine, yolk of egg, and rosewater; when they are
well soaked fry them, then throw them again into the rosewater and
sprinkle them with sugar and saffron."

[Illustration: Fig. 115.--Kitchen and Table Uensils:--

1, Carving-knife (Sixteenth Century);
2, Chalice or Cup, with Cover (Fourteenth Century);
3, Doubled-handled Pot, in Copper (Ninth Century);
4, Metal Boiler, or Tin Pot, taken from "L'Histoire de la Belle Helaine"
(Fifteenth Century);
5, Knife (Sixteenth Century);
6, Pot, with Handles (Fourteenth Century);
7, Copper Boiler, taken from "L'Histoire de la Belle Helaine" (Fifteenth
8, Ewer, with Handle, in Oriental Fashion (Ninth Century);
9, Pitcher, sculptured, from among the Decorations of the Church of St.
Benedict, Paris (Fifteenth Century);
10, Two-branched Candlestick (Sixteenth Century);
11, Cauldron (Fifteenth Century).

It is possible that even now this kind of soup might find some favour;
but we cannot say the same for those made with mustard, hemp-seed, millet,
verjuice, and a number of others much in repute at that period; for we see
in Rabelais that the French were the greatest soup eaters in the world,
and boasted to be the inventors of seventy sorts.

We have already remarked that broths were in use at the remotest periods,
for, from the time that the practice of boiling various meats was first
adopted, it must have been discovered that the water in which they were so
boiled became savoury and nourishing. "In the time of the great King
Francis I.," says Noel du Fail, in his "Contes d'Eutrapel," "in many
places the saucepan was put on to the table, on which there was only one
other large dish, of beef, mutton, veal, and bacon, garnished with a large
bunch of cooked herbs, the whole of which mixture composed a porridge, and
a real restorer and elixir of life. From this came the adage, 'The soup in
the great pot and the dainties in the hotch-potch.'"

At one time they made what they imagined to be strengthening broths for
invalids, though their virtue must have been somewhat delusive, for, after
having boiled down various materials in a close kettle and at a slow fire,
they then distilled from this, and the water thus obtained was
administered as a sovereign remedy. The common sense of Bernard Palissy
did not fail to make him see this absurdity, and to protest against this
ridiculous custom: "Take a capon," he says, "a partridge, or anything
else, cook it well, and then if you smell the broth you will find it very
good, and if you taste it you will find it has plenty of flavour; so much
so that you will feel that it contains something to invigorate you. Distil
this, on the contrary, and take the water then collected and taste it, and
you will find it insipid, and without smell except that of burning. This
should convince you that your restorer does not give that nourishment to
the weak body for which you recommend it as a means of making good blood,
and restoring and strengthening the spirits."

The taste for broths made of flour was formerly almost universal in France
and over the whole of Europe; it is spoken of repeatedly in the histories
and annals of monasteries; and we know that the Normans, who made it their
principal nutriment, were surnamed _bouilleux_. They were indeed almost
like the Romans who in olden times, before their wars with eastern
nations, gave up making bread, and ate their corn simply boiled in water.

In the fourteenth century the broths and soups were made with
millet-flour and mixed wheats. The pure wheat flour was steeped in milk
seasoned with sugar, saffron, honey, sweet wine or aromatic herbs, and
sometimes butter, fat, and yolks of eggs were added. It was on account of
this that the bread of the ancients so much resembled cakes, and it was
also from this fact that the art of the pastrycook took its rise.

Wheat made into gruel for a long time was an important ingredient in
cooking, being the basis of a famous preparation called _fromentee_, which
was a _bouillie_ of milk, made creamy by the addition of yolks of eggs,
and which served as a liquor in which to roast meats and fish. There were,
besides, several sorts of _fromentee_, all equally esteemed, and
Taillevent recommended the following receipt, which differs from the one
above given:--"First boil your wheat in water, then put into it the juice
or gravy of fat meat, or, if you like it better, milk of almonds, and by
this means you will make a soup fit for fasts, because it dissolves
slowly, is of slow digestion and nourishes much. In this way, too, you can
make _ordiat_, or barley soup, which is more generally approved than the
said _fromentee_."

[Illustration: Fig. 116.--Interior of a Kitchen.--Fac-simile from a
Woodcut in the "Calendarium Romanum" of J. Staeffler, folio, Tubingen,

Semolina, vermicelli, macaroni, &c., which were called Italian because
they originally came from that country, have been in use in France longer
than is generally supposed. They were first introduced after the
expedition of Charles VIII. into Italy, and the conquest of the kingdom of
Naples; that is, in the reign of Louis XII., or the first years of the
sixteenth century.

Pies, Stews, Roasts, Salads, &c.--Pastry made with fat, which might be
supposed to have been the invention of modern kitchens, was in great
repute amongst our ancestors. The manufacture of sweet and savoury pastry
was intrusted to the care of the good _menagiers_ of all ranks and
conditions, and to the corporation of pastrycooks, who obtained their
statutes only in the middle of the sixteenth century; the united skill of
these, both in Paris and in the provinces, multiplied the different sorts
of tarts and meat pies to a very great extent. So much was this the case
that these ingenious productions became a special art, worthy of rivalling
even cookery itself (Figs. 117, 118, and 130). One of the earliest known
receipts for making pies is that of Gaces de la Bigne, first chaplain of
Kings John, Charles V., and Charles VI. We find it in a sporting poem, and
it deserves to be quoted verbatim as a record of the royal kitchen of the
fourteenth century. It will be observed on perusing it that nothing was
spared either in pastry or in cookery, and that expense was not considered
when it was a question of satisfying the appetite.

"Trois perdriaulx gros et reffais
Au milieu du pate me mets;
Mais gardes bien que tu ne failles
A moi prendre six grosses cailles,
De quoi tu les apuyeras.
Et puis apres tu me prendras
Une douzaine d'alouetes
Qu'environ les cailles me mettes,
Et puis pendras de ces maches
Et de ces petits oiseles:
Selon ce que tu en auras,
Le pate m'en billeteras.
Or te fault faire pourveance
D'un pen de lart, sans point de rance,
Que tu tailleras comme de:
S'en sera le paste pouldre.
S tu le veux de bonne guise,
Du vertjus la grappe y soit mise,
D'un bien peu de sel soit pouldre ...
... Fay mettre des oeufs en la paste,
Les croutes un peu rudement
Faictes de flour de pur froment ...
... N'y mets espices ni fromaige ...
Au four bien a point chaud le met,
Qui de cendre ait l'atre bien net;
E quand sera bien a point cuit,
I n'est si bon mangier, ce cuit."

("Put me in the middle of the pie three young partridges large and fat;
But take good care not to fail to take six fine quail to put by their
After that you must take a dozen skylarks, which round the quail you must
And then you must take some thrushes and such other little birds as you
can get to garnish the pie.
Further, you must provide yourself with a little bacon, which must not be
in the least rank (reasty), and you must cut it into pieces of the size
of a die, and sprinkle them into the pie.
If you want it to be in quite good form, you must put some sour grapes in
and a very little salt ...
... Have eggs put into the paste, and the crust made rather hard of the
flour of pure wheat.
Put in neither spice nor cheese ...
Put it into the oven just at the proper heat,
The bottom of which must be quite free from ashes;
And when it is baked enough, isn't that a dish to feast on!")

From this period all treatises on cookery are full of the same kind of
receipts for making "pies of young chickens, of fresh venison, of veal, of
eels, of bream and salmon, of young rabbits, of pigeons, of small birds,
of geese, and of _narrois_" (a mixture of cod's liver and hashed fish). We
may mention also the small pies, which were made of minced beef and
raisins, similar to our mince pies, and which were hawked in the streets
of Paris, until their sale was forbidden, because the trade encouraged
greediness on the one hand and laziness on the other.

Ancient pastries, owing to their shapes, received the name of _tourte_ or
_tarte_, from the Latin _torta_, a large hunch of bread. This name was
afterwards exclusively used for hot pies, whether they contained
vegetables, meat, or fish. But towards the end of the fourteenth century
_tourte_ and _tarte_ was applied to pastry containing, herbs, fruits, or
preserves, and _pate_ to those containing any kind of meat, game, or fish.

[Illustration: Fig. 117.--Banner of the Corporation of Pastrycooks of

[Illustration: Fig. 118.--Banner of the Corporation of Pastrycooks of

It was only in the course of the sixteenth century that the name of
_potage_ ceased to be applied to stews, whose number equalled their
variety, for on a bill of fare of a banquet of that period we find more
than fifty different sorts of _potages_ mentioned. The greater number of
these dishes have disappeared from our books on cookery, having gone out
of fashion; but there are two stews which were popular during many
centuries, and which have maintained their reputation, although they do
not now exactly represent what they formerly did. The _pot-pourri_, which
was composed of veal, beef, mutton, bacon, and vegetables, and the
_galimafree_, a fricassee of poultry, sprinkled with verjuice, flavoured
with spices, and surrounded by a sauce composed of vinegar, bread crumbs,
cinnamon, ginger, &c. (Fig. 119).

The highest aim of the cooks of the Taillevent school was to make dishes
not only palatable, but also pleasing to the eye. These masters in the art
of cooking might be said to be both sculptors and painters, so much did
they decorate their works, their object being to surprise or amuse the
guests by concealing the real nature of the disbes. Froissart, speaking of
a repast given in his time, says that there were a number of "dishes so
curious and disguised that it was impossible to guess what they were." For
instance, the bill of fare above referred to mentions a lion and a sun
made of white chicken, a pink jelly, with diamond-shaped points; and, as
if the object of cookery was to disguise food and deceive epicures,
Taillevent facetiously gives us a receipt for making fried or roast butter
and for cooking eggs on the spit.

[Illustration: Fig. 119.--Interior of Italian Kitchen.--Fac-simile of a
Woodcut in the Book on Cookery of Christoforo di Messisburgo, "Banchetti
compositioni di Vivende," 4to., Ferrara, 1549.]

The roasts were as numerous as the stews. A treatise of the fourteenth
century names about thirty, beginning with a sirloin of beef, which must
have been one of the most common, and ending with a swan, which appeared
on table in full plumage. This last was the triumph of cookery, inasmuch
as it presented this magnificent bird to the eyes of the astonished guests
just as if he were living and swimming. His beak was gilt, his body
silvered, resting 'on a mass of brown pastry, painted green in order to
represent a grass field. Eight banners of silk were placed round, and a
cloth of the same material served as a carpet for the whole dish, which
towered above the other appointments of the table.

[Illustration: Fig. 120.--Hunting-Meal.--Fac-simile of a Miniature in the
Manuscript of the "Livre du Roy Modus" (National Library of Paris).]

The peacock, which was as much thought of then as it is little valued now,
was similarly arrayed, and was brought to table amidst a flourish of
trumpets and the applause of all present. The modes of preparing other
roasts much resembled the present system in their simplicity, with this
difference, that strong meats were first boiled to render them tender, and
no roast was ever handed over to the skill of the carver without first
being thoroughly basted with orange juice and rose water, and covered with
sugar and powdered spices.

We must not forget to mention the broiled dishes, the invention of which
is attributed to hunters, and which Rabelais continually refers to as
acting as stimulants and irresistibly exciting the thirst for wine at the
sumptuous feasts of those voracious heroes (Fig. 120).

The custom of introducing salads after roasts was already established in
the fifteenth century. However, a salad, of whatever sort, was never
brought to table in its natural state; for, besides the raw herbs, dressed
in the same manner as in our days, it contained several mixtures, such as
cooked vegetables, and the crests, livers, or brains of poultry. After the
salads fish was served; sometimes fried, sometimes sliced with eggs or
reduced to a sort of pulp, which was called _carpee_ or _charpie_, and
sometimes it was boiled in water or wine, with strong seasoning. Near the
salads, in the course of the dinner, dishes of eggs prepared in various
ways were generally served. Many of these are now in use, such as the
poached egg, the hard-boiled egg, egg sauce, &c.

[Illustration: Fig. 121.--Shop of a Grocer and Druggist, from a Stamp of Vriese
(Seventeenth Century).]

Seasonings.--We have already stated that the taste for spices much
increased in Europe after the Crusades; and in this rapid historical
sketch of the food of the French people in the Middle Ages it must have
been observed to what an extent this taste had become developed in France
(Fig. 121). This was the origin of sauces, all, or almost all, of which
were highly spiced, and were generally used with boiled, roast, or grilled
meats. A few of these sauces, such as the yellow, the green, and the
_cameline_, became so necessary in cooking that numerous persons took to
manufacturing them by wholesale, and they were hawked in the streets of

These sauce-criers were first called _saulciers_, then
_vinaigriers-moustardiers_, and when Louis XII. united them in a body, as
their business had considerably increased, they were termed
_sauciers-moutardiers-vinaigriers_, distillers of brandy and spirits of
wine, and _buffetiers_ (from _buffet_, a sideboard).

[Illustration: Fig. 122.--The Cook, drawn and engraved, in the Sixteenth
Century, by J. Amman.]

But very soon the corporation became divided, no doubt from the force of
circumstances; and on one side we find the distillers, and on the other
the master-cooks and cooks, or _porte-chapes_, as they were called,
because, when they carried on their business of cooking, they covered
their dishes with a _chape_, that is, a cope or tin cover (Fig. 122), so
as to keep them warm.

The list of sauces of the fourteenth century, given by the "Menagier de
Paris," is most complicated; but, on examining the receipts, it becomes
clear that the variety of those preparations, intended to sharpen the
appetite, resulted principally from the spicy ingredients with which they
were flavoured; and it is here worthy of remark that pepper, in these days
exclusively obtained from America, was known and generally used long
before the time of Columbus. It is mentioned in a document, of the time
of Clotaire III. (660); and it is clear, therefore, that before the
discovery of the New World pepper and spices were imported into Europe
from the East.

Mustard, which was an ingredient in so many dishes, was cultivated and
manufactured in the thirteenth century in the neighbourhood of Dijon and

According to a popular adage, garlic was the medicine (_theriaque_) of
peasants; town-people for a long time greatly appreciated _aillee_, which
was a sauce made of garlic, and sold ready prepared in the streets of

The custom of using anchovies as a flavouring is also very ancient. This
was also done with _botargue_ and _cavial_, two sorts of side-dishes,
which consisted of fishes' eggs, chiefly mullet and sturgeon, properly
salted or dried, and mixed with fresh or pickled olives. The olives for
the use of the lower orders were brought from Languedoc and Provence,
whereas those for the rich were imported from Spain and some from Syria.
It was also from the south of France that the rest of the kingdom was
supplied with olive oil, for which, to this day, those provinces have
preserved their renown; but as early as the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries oil of walnuts was brought from the centre of France to Paris,
and this, although cheaper, was superseded by oil extracted from the

Truffles, though known and esteemed by the ancients, disappeared from the
gastronomie collection of our forefathers. It was only in the fourteenth
century that they were again introduced, but evidently without a knowledge
of their culinary qualities, since, after being preserved in vinegar, they
were soaked in hot water, and afterwards served up in butter. We may also
here mention sorrel and the common mushroom, which were used in cooking
during the Middle Ages.

On the strength of the old proverb, "Sugar has never spoiled sauce," sugar
was put into all sauces which were not _piquantes_, and generally some
perfumed water was added to them, such as rose-water. This was made in
great quantities by exposing to the sun a basin full of water, covered
over by another basin of glass, under which was a little vase containing
rose-leaves. This rose-water was added to all stews, pastries, and
beverages. It is very doubtful as to the period at which white lump sugar
became known in the West. However, in an account of the house of the
Dauphin Viennois (1333) mention is made of "white sugar;" and the author
of the "Menagier de Paris" frequently speaks of this white sugar, which,
before the discovery, or rather colonisation, of America, was brought,
ready refined, from the Grecian islands, and especially from Candia.

[Illustration: Fig. 123.--The _Issue de Table_.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut
in the Treatise of Christoforo di Messisburgo, "Banchetti compositioni di
Vivende," 4to., Ferrara, 1549.]

Verjuice, or green juice, which, with vinegar, formed the essential basis
of sauces, and is now extracted from a species of green grape, which never
ripens, was originally the juice of sorrel; another sort was extracted by
pounding the green blades of wheat. Vinegar was originally merely soured
wine, as the word _vin-aigre_ denotes. The mode of manufacturing it by
artificial means, in order to render the taste more pungent and the
quality better, is very ancient. It is needless to state that it was
scented by the infusion of herbs or flowers--roses, elder, cloves, &c.;
but it was not much before the sixteenth century that it was used for
pickling herbs or fruits and vegetables, such as gherkins, onions,
cucumber, purslain, &c.

Salt, which from the remotest periods was the condiment _par excellence_,
and the trade in which had been free up to the fourteenth century, became,
from that period, the subject of repeated taxation. The levying of these
taxes was a frequent cause of tumult amongst the people, who saw with
marked displeasure the exigencies of the excise gradually raising the
price of an article of primary necessity. We have already mentioned times
during which the price of salt was so exorbitant that the rich alone could
put it in their bread. Thus, in the reign of Francis I., it was almost as
dear as Indian spices.

Sweet Dishes, Desserts, &c.--In the fourteenth century, the first courses
of a repast were called _mets_ or _assiettes_; the last, "_entremets,
dorures, issue de table, desserte_, and _boule-hors_."

The dessert consisted generally of baked pears, medlars, pealed walnuts,
figs, dates, peaches, grapes, filberts, spices, and white or red

At the _issue de table_ wafers or some other light pastry were introduced,
which were eaten with the hypocras wine. The _boute-hors,_ which was
served when the guests, after having washed their hands and said grace,
had passed into the drawing-room, consisted of spices, different from
those which had appeared at dessert, and intended specially to assist the
digestion; and for this object they must have been much needed,
considering that a repast lasted several hours. Whilst eating these spices
they drank Grenache, Malmsey, or aromatic wines (Fig. 123).

It was only at the banquets and great repeats that sweet dishes and
_dorures_ appeared, and they seem to have been introduced for the purpose
of exhibiting the power of the imagination and the talent in execution of
the master-cook.

The _dorures_ consisted of jellies of all sorts and colours; swans,
peacocks, bitterns, and herons, on gala feasts, were served in full
feather on a raised platform in the middle of the table, and hence the
name of "raised dishes." As for the side-dishes, properly so called, the
long list collected in the "Menagier" shows us that they were served at
table indiscriminately, for stuffed chickens at times followed hashed
porpoise in sauce, lark pies succeeded lamb sausages, and pike's-eggs
fritters appeared after orange preserve.

At a later period the luxury of side-dishes consisted in the quantity and
in the variety of the pastry; Rabelais names sixteen different sorts at
one repast; Taillevent mentions pastry called _covered pastry,
Bourbonnaise pastry, double-faced pastry, pear pastry_, and _apple
pastry_; Platina speaks of the _white pastry_ with quince, elder flowers,
rice, roses, chestnuts, &c. The fashion of having pastry is, however, of
very ancient date, for in the book of the "Proverbs" of the thirteenth
century, we find that the pies of Dourlens and the pastry of Chartres were
then in great celebrity.

[Illustration: Fig. 124.--The Table of a Baron, as laid out in the
Thirteenth Century.--Miniature from the "Histoire de St. Graal"
(Manuscript from the Imperial Library, Paris).]

In a charter of Robert le Bouillon, Bishop of Amiens, in 1311, mention is
made of a cake composed of puff flaky paste; these cakes, however, are
less ancient than the firm pastry called bean cake, or king's cake, which,
from the earliest days of monarchy, appeared on all the tables, not only
at the feast of the Epiphany, but also on every festive occasion.

Amongst the dry and sweet pastries from the small oven which appeared at
the _issue de table_, the first to be noticed were those made of almonds,
nuts, &c., and such choice morsels, which were very expensive; then came
the cream or cheesecakes, the _petits choux_, made of butter and eggs; the
_echaudes_, of which the people were very fond, and St. Louis even
allowed the bakers to cook them on Sundays and feast days for the poor;
wafers, which are older than the thirteenth century; and lastly the
_oublies_, which, under the names of _nieules, esterets_, and
_supplications_, gave rise to such an extensive trade that a corporation
was established in Paris, called the _oublayeurs, oublayers,_ or
_oublieux_, whose statutes directed that none should be admitted to
exercise the trade unless he was able to make in one day 500 large
_oublies_, 300 _supplications_, and 200 _esterets_.

Repasts and Feasts.

We have had to treat elsewhere of the rules and regulations of the repasts
under the Merovingian and Carlovingian kings. We have also spoken of the
table service of the thirteenth century (see chapter on "Private Life").
The earliest author who has left us any documents on this curious subject
is that excellent bourgeois to whom we owe the "Menagier de Paris." He
describes, for instance, in its fullest details, a repast which was given
in the fourteenth century by the Abbe de Lagny, to the Bishop of Paris,
the President of the Parliament, the King's attorney and advocate, and
other members of his council, in all sixteen guests. We find from this
account that "my lord of Paris, occupying the place of honour, was, in
consequence of his rank, served on covered dishes by three of his squires,
as was the custom for the King, the royal princes, the dukes, and peers;
that Master President, who was seated by the side of the bishop, was also
served by one of his own servants, but on uncovered dishes, and the other
guests were seated at table according to the order indicated by their
titles or charges."

The bill of fare of this feast, which was given on a fast-day, is the more
worthy of attention, in that it proves to us what numerous resources
cookery already possessed. This was especially the case as regards fish,
notwithstanding that the transport of fresh sea-fish was so difficult,
owing to the bad state of the roads.

First, a quarter of a pint of Grenache was given to each guest on sitting
down, then "hot _eschaudes_, roast apples with white sugar-plums upon
them, roasted figs, sorrel and watercress, and rosemary."

"Soups.--A rich soup, composed of six trout, six tenches, white herring,
freshwater eels, salted twenty-four hours, and three whiting, soaked
twelve hours; almonds, ginger, saffron, cinnamon powder and sweetmeats.

"Salt-Water Fish.--Soles, gurnets, congers, turbots, and salmon.

"Fresh-Water Fish.--_Lux faudis_ (pike with roe), carps from the Marne,

"Side-Dishes.--Lampreys _a la boee_, orange-apples (one for each guest),
porpoise with sauce, mackerel, soles, bream, and shad _a la cameline_,
with verjuice, rice and fried almonds upon them; sugar and apples.

[Illustration: Fig. 125.--Officers of the Table and of the Chamber of the
Imperial Court: Cup-bearer, Cook, Barber, and Tailor, from a Picture in
the "Triomphe de Maximilien T.," engraved by J. Resch, Burgmayer, and
others (1512), from Drawings by Albert Durer.]

"Dessert.--Stewed fruit with white and vermilion sugar-plums; figs, dates,
grapes, and filberts.

"Hypocras for _issue de table_, with _oublies_ and _supplications_.

"Wines and spices compose the _baute-hors_."

To this fasting repast we give by way of contrast the bill of fare at the
nuptial feast of Master Helye, "to which forty guests were bidden on a
Tuesday in May, a 'day of flesh.'"

"Soups.--Capons with white sauce, ornamented with pomegranate and crimson

"Roasts.--Quarter of roe-deer, goslings, young chickens, and sauces of
orange, cameline, and verjuice.

"Side-Dishes.--Jellies of crayfish and loach; young rabbits and pork.

"Dessert.--_Froumentee_ and venison.


"Boute-Hors.--Wine and spices."

The clever editor of the "Menagier de Paris," M. le Baron Jerome Pichon,
after giving us this curious account of the mode of living of the citizens
of that day, thus sums up the whole arrangements for the table in the
fourteenth century: "The different provisions necessary for food are
usually entrusted to the squires of the kitchen, and were chosen,
purchased, and paid for by one or more of these officials, assisted by the
cooks. The dishes prepared by the cooks were placed, by the help of the
esquires, on dressers in the kitchen until the moment of serving. Thence
they were carried to the tables. Let us imagine a vast hall hung with
tapestries and other brilliant stuffs. The tables are covered with fringed
table-cloths, and strewn with odoriferous herbs; one of them, called the
Great Table, is reserved for the persons of distinction. The guests are
taken to their seats by two butlers, who bring them water to wash. The
Great Table is laid out by a butler, with silver salt-cellars (Figs. 126
and 127), golden goblets with lids for the high personages, spoons and
silver drinking cups. The guests eat at least certain dishes on
_tranchoirs_, or large slices of thick bread, afterwards thrown into vases
called _couloueres_ (drainers). For the other tables the salt is placed on
pieces of bread, scooped out for that purpose by the intendants, who are
called _porte-chappes._ In the hall is a dresser covered with plate and
various kinds of wine. Two squires standing near this dresser give the
guests clean spoons, pour out what wine they ask for, and remove the
silver when used; two other squires superintend the conveyance of wine to
the dresser; a varlet placed under their orders is occupied with nothing
but drawing wine from the casks." At that time wine was not bottled, and
they drew directly from the cask the amount necessary for the day's
consumption. "The dishes, consisting of three, four, five, and even six
courses, called _mets_ or _assiettes_, are brought in by varlets and two
of the principal squires, and in certain wedding-feasts the bridegroom
walked in front of them. The dishes are placed on the table by an
_asseeur_ (placer), assisted by two servants. The latter take away the
remains at the conclusion of the course, and hand them over to the
squires of the kitchen who have charge of them. After the _mets_ or
_assiettes_ the table-cloths are changed, and the _entremets_ are then
brought in. This course is the most brilliant of the repast, and at some
of the princely banquets the dishes are made to imitate a sort of
theatrical representation. It is composed of sweet dishes, of coloured
jellies of swans, of peacocks, or of pheasants adorned with their
feathers, having the beak and feet gilt, and placed on the middle of the
table on a sort of pedestal. To the _entremets_, a course which does not
appear on all bills of fare, succeeds the dessert. The _issue_, or exit
from table, is mostly composed of hypocras and a sort of _oublie_ called
_mestier_; or, in summer, when hypocras is out of season on account of its
strength, of apples, cheeses, and sometimes of pastries and sweetmeats.
The _boute-hors_ (wines and spices) end the repast. The guests then wash
their hands, say grace, and pass into the _chambre de parement_ or
drawing-room. The servants then sit down and dine after their masters.
They subsequently bring the guests wine and _epices de chambre_, after
which each retires home."

[Illustration: Figs. 126 and 127.--Sides of an Enamelled Salt-cellar, with
six facings representing the Labours of Hercules, made at Limoges, by
Pierre Raymond, for Francis I.]

But all the pomp and magnificence of the feasts of this period would have
appeared paltry a century later, when royal banquets were managed by
Taillevent, head cook to Charles VII. The historian of French cookery,
Legrand d'Aussy, thus desoribes a great feast given in 1455 by the Count
of Anjou, third son of Louis II., King of Sicily:--

"On the table was placed a centre-piece, which represented a green lawn,
surrounded with large peacocks' feathers and green branches, to which were
tied violets and other sweet-smelling flowers. In the middle of this lawn
a fortress was placed, covered with silver. This was hollow, and formed a
sort of cage, in which several live birds were shut up, their tufts and
feet being gilt. On its tower, which was gilt, three banners were placed,
one bearing the arms of the count, the two others those of Mesdemoiselles
de Chateaubrun and de Villequier, in whose honour the feast was given.

"The first course consisted of a civet of hare, a quarter of stag which
had been a night in salt, a stuffed chicken, and a loin of veal. The two
last dishes were covered with a German sauce, with gilt sugar-plums, and
pomegranate seeds.... At each end, outside the green lawn, was an enormous
pie, surmounted with smaller pies, which formed a crown. The crust of the
large ones was silvered all round and gilt at the top; each contained a
whole roe-deer, a gosling, three capons, six chickens, ten pigeons, one
young rabbit, and, no doubt to serve as seasoning or stuffing, a minced
loin of veal, two pounds of fat, and twenty-six hard-boiled eggs, covered
with saffron and flavoured with cloves. For the three following courses,
there was a roe-deer, a pig, a sturgeon cooked in parsley and vinegar, and
covered with powdered ginger; a kid, two goslings, twelve chickens, as
many pigeons, six young rabbits, two herons, a leveret, a fat capon
stuffed, four chickens covered with yolks of eggs and sprinkled with
powder _de Duc_ (spice), a wild boar, some wafers (_darioles_), and stars;
a jelly, part white and part red, representing the crests of the three
above-mentioned persons; cream with _Duc_ powder, covered with fennel
seeds preserved in sugar; a white cream, cheese in slices, and
strawberries; and, lastly, plums stewed in rose-water. Besides these four
courses, there was a fifth, entirely composed of the prepared wines then
in vogue, and of preserves. These consisted of fruits and various sweet
pastries. The pastries represented stags and swans, to the necks of which
were suspended the arms of the Count of Anjou and those of the two young

In great houses, dinner was announced by the sound of the hunting-horn;
this is what Froissard calls _corner l'assiette,_ but which was at an
earlier period called _corner l'eau_, because it was the custom to wash
the hands before sitting down to table as well as on leaving the

[Illustration: Fig. 128.--Knife-handles in Sculptured Ivory, Sixteenth
Century (Collection of M. Becker, of Frankfort).]

[Illustration: Fig. 129.--Nut-crackers, in Boxwood, Sixteenth Century
(Collection of M. Achille Jubinal).]

For these ablutions scented water, and especially rose-water, was used,
brought in ewers of precious and delicately wrought metals, by pages or
squires, who handed them to the ladies in silver basins. It was at about
this period, that is, in the times of chivalry, that the custom of placing
the guests by couples was introduced, generally a gentleman and lady, each
couple having but one cup and one plate; hence the expression, to eat from
the same plate.

Historians relate that in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, at
certain gala feasts, the dishes were brought in by servants in full
armour, mounted on caparisoned horses; but this is a custom exclusively
attached to chivalry. As early as those days, powerful and ingenious
machines were in use, which lowered from the story above, or raised from
that below, ready-served tables, which were made to disappear after use as
if by enchantment.

At that period the table service of the wealthy required a considerable
staff of retainers and varlets; and, at a later period, this number was
much increased. Thus, for instance, when Louis of Orleans went on a
diplomatic mission to Germany from his brother Charles VI., this prince,
in order that France might be worthily represented abroad, raised the
number of his household to more than two hundred and fifty persons, of
whom about one hundred were retainers and table attendants. Olivier de la
Marche, who, in his "Memoires," gives the most minute details of the
ceremonial of the court of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, tells us
that the table service was as extensive as in the other great princely

This extravagant and ruinous pomp fell into disuse during the reigns of
Louis XI., Charles VIII., and Louis XII., but reappeared in that of
Francis I. This prince, after his first wars in Italy, imported the
cookery and the gastronomic luxury of that country, where the art of good
living, especially in Venice, Florence, and Rome, had reached the highest
degree of refinement and magnificence. Henry II. and Francis II.
maintained the magnificence of their royal tables; but after them,
notwithstanding the soft effeminacy of the manners at court, the continued
wars which Henry III. and Charles IX. had to sustain in their own states
against the Protestants and the League necessitated a considerable economy
in the households and tables of those kings.

"It was only by fits and starts," says Brantome, "that one was well fed
during this reign, for very often circumstances prevented the proper
preparation of the repasts; a thing much disliked by the courtiers, who
prefer open table to be kept at both court and with the army, because it
then costs them nothing." Henry IV. was neither fastidious nor greedy; we
must therefore come down to the reign of Louis XIII. to find a vestige of
the splendour of the banquets of Francis I.

[Illustration: Fig. 130.--Grand Ceremonial Banquet at the Court of France
in the Fourteenth Century, archaeological Restoration from Miniatures and
Narratives of the Period.

From the "Dictionnaire du Mobilier Francais" of M. Viollet-Leduc.]

From the establishment of the Franks in Gaul down to the fifteenth century
inclusive, there were but two meals a day; people dined at ten o'clock in
the morning, and supped at four in the afternoon. In the sixteenth century
they put back dinner one hour and supper three hours, to which many people
objected. Hence the old proverb:--

"Lever a six, diner a dix,
Souper a six, coucher a dix,
Fait vivre l'homme dix fois dix."

("To rise at six, dine at ten,
Sup at six, to bed at ten,
Makes man live ten times ten.")

[Illustration: Fig. 131.--Banner of the Corporation of Pastrycooks of


Venery and Hawking.--Origin of Aix-la-Chapelle.--Gaston Phoebus and his
Book.--The Presiding Deities of Sportsmen.--Sporting Societies and
Brotherhoods.--Sporting Kings: Charlemagne, Louis IX., Louis XI.,
Charles VIII., Louis XII., Francis I., &c.--Treatise on
Venery.--Sporting Popes.--Origin of Hawking.--Training Birds.--Hawking
Retinues.--Book of King Modus.--Technical Terms used in
Hawking.--Persons who have excelled in this kind of Sport.--Fowling.

By the general term hunting is included the three distinct branches of an
art, or it may be called a science, which dates its origin from the
earliest times, but which was particularly esteemed in the Middle Ages,
and was especially cultivated in the glorious days of chivalry.

_Venery_, which is the earliest, is defined by M. Elzear Blaze as "the
science of snaring, taking, or killing one particular animal from amongst
a herd." _Hawking_ came next. This was not only the art of hunting with
the falcon, but that of training birds of prey to hunt feathered game.
Lastly, _l'oisellerie_ (fowling), which, according to the author of
several well-known works on the subject we are discussing, had originally
no other object than that of protecting the crops and fruits from birds
and other animals whose nature it was to feed on them.

Venery will be first considered. Sportsmen always pride themselves in
placing Xenophon, the general, philosopher, and historian, at the head of
sporting writers, although his treatise on the chase (translated from the
Greek into Latin under the title of "De Venatione"), which gives excellent
advice respecting the training of dogs, only speaks of traps and nets for
capturing wild animals. Amongst the Greeks Arrian and Oppian, and amongst
the Romans, Gratius Faliscus and Nemesianus, wrote on the same subject.
Their works, however, except in a few isolated or scattered passages, do
not contain anything about venery properly so called, and the first
historical information on the subject is to be found in the records of the
seventh century.

Long after that period, however, they still hunted, as it were, at random,
attacking the first animal they met. The sports of Charlemagne, for
instance, were almost always of this description. On some occasions they
killed animals of all sorts by thousands, after having tracked and driven
them into an enclosure composed of cloths or nets.

This illustrious Emperor, although usually at war in all parts of Europe,
never missed an opportunity of hunting: so much so that it might be said
that he rested himself by galloping through the forests. He was on these
occasions not only followed by a large number of huntsmen and attendants
of his household, but he was accompanied by his wife and daughters,
mounted on magnificent coursers, and surrounded by a numerous and elegant
court, who vied with each other in displaying their skill and courage in
attacking the fiercest animals.

It is even stated that Aix-la-Chapelle owes its origin to a hunting
adventure of Charlemagne. The Emperor one day while chasing a stag
required to cross a brook which came in his path, but immediately his
horse had set his foot in the water he pulled it out again and began to
limp as if it were hurt. His noble rider dismounted, and on feeling the
foot found it was quite hot. This induced him to put his hand into the
water, which he found to be almost boiling. On that very spot therefore he
caused a chapel to be erected, in the shape of a horse's hoof. The town
was afterwards built, and to this day the spring of hot mineral water is
enclosed under a rotunda, the shape of which reminds one of the old legend
of Charlemagne and his horse.

The sons of Charlemagne also held hunting in much esteem, and by degrees
the art of venery was introduced and carried to great perfection. It was
not, however, until the end of the thirteenth century that an anonymous
author conceived the idea of writing its principal precepts in an
instructive poem, called "Le Dict de la Chace du Cerf." In 1328 another
anonymous writer composed the "Livre du Roy Modus," which contains the
rules for hunting all furred animals, from the stag to the hare. Then
followed other poets and writers of French prose, such as Gace de la Vigne
(1359), Gaston Phoebus (1387), and Hardouin, lord of Fontaine-Guerin
(1394). None of these, however, wrote exclusively on venery, but described
the different sports known in their day. Towards 1340, Alphonse XI., king
of Castile, caused a book on hunting to be compiled for his use; but it
was not so popular as the instruction of Gaston Phoebus (Fig. 132). If
hunting with hounds is known everywhere by the French name of the chase,
it is because the honour of having organized it into a system, if not of
having originated it, is due to the early French sporting authors, who
were able to form a code of rules for it. This also accounts for so many
of the technical terms now in use in venery being of French origin, as
they are no others than those adopted by these ancient authors, whose
works, so to speak, have perpetuated them.

[Illustration: Fig. 132.--Gaston Phoebus teaching the Art of
Venery.--Fac-simile of a Miniature of "Phoebus and his Staff for Hunting


Back to Full Books